Mother’s Day has arrived early for Terry Ryan.Dreamworks and Robert Zemeckis’ Imagemovers have optioned Ryan’s memoir, “The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less.” Ryan is the sixth child of Evelyn Ryan, a midwestern housewife and composer of ad jingles for everything from Dial soap to Kleenex. In the 1950s and ’60s, the elder Ryan rescued her family from debt by entering contests for ad slogans sponsored by consumer product companies. She lost plenty of them, but Ryan was successful enough to bag toasters, cars, supermarket shopping sprees and enough cash to cover the mortgage on her house. “There’s such an innocence in those entries and a feeling of love for the product,” says Terry Ryan, who writes the T.O. Sylvester cartoon for the San Francisco Chronicle. Ryan, repped by the Amy Rennert Agency and Endeavor, is now on a publicity junket of her own, promoting the book, just out from Simon & Schuster, on such venues as the Rosie O’Donnel show and CBS Sunday morning. Imagemovers has a first-look deal with Dreamworks.
BETTE MIDLER’S “CANCELLED,” a chronicle of Midler’s CBS sitcom “Bette” which recently sold to Simon & Schuster for close to $1 million, has been cancelled. The thesp has withdrawn the book and, according to producing partner Bonnie Bruckheimer, has changed her mind about writing it. The deal raised eyebrows, not just for the perspective the book promised on the downfall of Midler’s show, but because the Eye and Simon & Schuster are siblings in the Viacom family. “We were looking forward to publishing the book,” says S&S spokesman Adam Rothberg. “There was no interference at any level of the company.” Midler spiked the deal even before a contract had been compiled, so she won’t have to return any advance money.
“CANCELLED” IS JUST THE LATEST celebrity book that the Renaissance division of AMG has recently shopped. In a deal valued at a substantial six figures, it just sold a book by Kirk Douglas, tentatively called “Stroke of Luck,” to William Morrow.The memoir, which was bought on the basis of a complete manuscript, is an anecdotal and inspirational account of how Douglas overcame a stroke. It is scheduled to appear in 2002.
A U.S. DISTRICT COURT in downtown Manhattan was the site Tuesday of the latest skirmish in a copyright battle roiling the book industry.After listening to hours of testimony from Random House and upstart e-publisher RosettaBooks, which is facing a preliminary injunction from Random House to stop publishing digital editions of books like “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Sophie’s Choice” that remain on the Random House backlist, federal judge Sidney H. Stein said he would issue a prompt decision on the injunction. That ruling may take a couple of weeks, but the stakes are high. In the balance hangs the digital future of backlist publishing — a sector of the business valued at $10 billion. The dispute rests on the very definition of a book — whether it’s a physical object or a representation of the author’s words in various media. There were no digital rights clauses in the original contracts for “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Sophie’s Choice,” so RosettaBooks publisher Arthur Klebanoff has, at least by his lights, secured those rights from the authors’ reps. But Random House says it owns those rights as a matter of “common sense.” The Random House suit has arrayed publishers against authors and agents to a degree that may be unprecedented in publishing history. Book giants Penguin Putnam, Simon & Schuster, Time Warner and the Perseus Book Group have filed an Amicus brief supporting the Random House case. But the Association of Authors’ Representatives and the Author’s Guild have filed one supporting RosettaBooks.
GOTHAM SHINGLE HART SHARP, producer of “You Can Count On Me,” has optioned “P.S.,” the latest novel by Helen Schulman.The book is a comedy about a divorced woman in New York who begins dating a colleague who’s the splitting image of her high school sweetheart. John Hart, Jeff Sharp and Kessel will produce the project, which will be overseen by director of development Nina Wolarsky. Schulman, who was repped by the Lynn Pleshette Agency and ICM, will write the screenplay. She is a widely published author who recently co-edited the anthology, “Wanting a Child.” Hart Sharp has just signed a two-year, non-exclusive production pact with the U.K.’s Film Four.